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Taj Mahal  

The Monument of Infinite Love
Mughal emperor Shah Jahan left behind a grand legacy of grand architecture, including the four hundred fountains of the Shalimar Gardens. However, his love for building couldn’t hold a candle to his feelings for Mumtaz Mahal, his wife since the age of 15, whom he called the Jewel of the Palace.

When she died giving birth to their fourteenth child, Shah Jahan didn’t write sonnets or drink himself under a table. He hired 20,000 laborers and spent the next 22 years building the world’s most beautiful and eternal icon of love.

From afar, Taj Mahal appears like a massive white block of marble, centered between four skyward spires. From dawn till dusk, Taj Mahal changes color from amber to gold to brilliant white and into crimson. Coming closer to the masterpiece of Mughal and Persian architecture is like shrinking to the size of an ant.

Like an optical illusion, the 93 foot high mausoleum transforms into an intricate web-work of carved floral bouquets inlaid with every precious stone imaginable: agate, jasper, malachite, turquoise, tiger's eye, lapis lazuli, coral, and carnelian. Surfaces of slate, sandstone, white and black marble painted and engraved with calligraphy that increases in size higher from the floor, creating an illusion that the letters remain the same size all the way up.

Entering into the massive halls, visitors shrink again within the endless archways and inlaid floral engravings that whisper of thousands of hands and voices still hard at work and, paradoxically, suggest a finality and permanence that quiets the soul. And when the guests are silenced in awe, standing barefoot in front of the cenotaph, one can hear the vibration of air through the ventilated dome above often described as the sound of infinity.

Infinite may be the only word fit for describing this emperor’s love, and this World Heritage Site.
 
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Taj Mahal
Agra, India
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Rating 95.78 
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Rank [overall] 10 
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"This place is surreal. The most beautiful architecture I've ever seen!"
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